Antidepressants? Hell no. Bump this loud and give in to it.
James Murphy and Pat Mahoney’s glorious DJ set Fabriclive 36 has been in constant rotation at my household, so much so that me and my ladyfriend have begun tracking down all the original tracks from the mix. “Love Has Come Around”, track three on FL36, injects the first moments of dancefloor romance into the proceedings; it’s a sense of longing that punctuates the set’s euphoric highs and deep disco cuts. My girlfriend in fact goes one step further and calls the whole mix a story of a relationship because it all takes place between the two halves of Peter Gordon’s “Beginning Of The Heartbreak / Don’t Don’t [Please Don’t Leave Me]”.
I don’t understand how it’s a heat-“wave” if the fucker never leaves. Earth is scorching, grass browning, and indoors the concrete walls sweat bullets while we worry feverishly how the cat’s doing at home right now. The mind doesn’t function quite right in this heat; hence, “Kerosene” and the allure of imminent self-immolation. There’s kerosene around, find something to do. Kerosene around, set me on fire!
I heard this song on the radio a few weeks ago, and at first I thought it was a post-millenial pastiche: Equal parts power and pop, dense guitar distortion, some very fun shouts—Jet!—and that commanding if campy saxophone line. Turns out the song is vintage Paul McCartney circa 1973, and “Jet” is the name of a pony he once owned. Magnificent!
Sometimes it’s like Paul is on a totally different plane from us.
“Homosapien” is a song by Pete Shelley. It was banned by the BBC for “explicit reference to gay sex”, e.g. the words “homo superior / in my interior”.”—And that’s the entire Wikipedia page for “Homosapien”.
SIMON REYNOLDS (interview excerpted from Totally Wired): Phil Oakey [of the Human League] told me that the one record that should be brought up in any discussion of the birth of synthpop is the one record that never gets mentioned: Pete Shelley’s Homosapien. Which was produced by you.
MARTIN RUSHENT (the recently deceased super-producer behind the Human League’s Dare!): Buzzcocks had split, and Pete came down to the studio to do demos. I’d started to use some of this new electronic gear I’d bought, and we came up with the album Homosapien. Which we thought was a bunch of demos. I said to Pete, “I’ll punt these demos around and see if I can get you a solo contract.” Bang, everybody’s coming back, wanting to release the demos.
We’ve already learned this from the Rykodisc reissues, but the point is worth repeating: David Bowie will often remove the best track from an albums sessions. In Black Tie, White Noise’s case, it was “Lucy Can’t Dance,” a track that is A) a better summation of everything Black Tie, White Noise was trying to be as an album, B) a repudiation of the near-misogyny of Tin Machine’s “Baby Can Dance,” C) the best song of the sessions with the best lyric Bowie’d written in over a decade. Nile Rodgers was convinced it was the song that was going to make the album explode onto the charts forever:
“He had another song, ‘Lucy Can’t Dance,’ which was a guaranteed Number 1 record, and everyone around was totally perplexed when it only appeared as a bonus track on the CD. He was running from success and running from the word ‘dance.’ Imagine David Bowie and Nile Rodgers together, and we come out with a song ‘Lucy Can’t Dance’. Smokin’!! I was already accepting my Grammy. But he was not budging. It was an exercise in futility- no matter who I tried to call, it fell on deaf ears.”
It’s just as frustrating for listeners to have a song that’s truly great and have it be shoved to ‘bonus track’ status. Of course, having be a ‘bonus track’ on a CD means it might as well be an album track in it’s own right, but it’s wedged after an unnecessary remix of Jump They Say. And of course there’s always just the association of ‘bonus track,’ and especially since it’s coupled with a remix, ‘Lucy Can’t Dance’ loses any importance just by association. Plus it’s easy to assume the album is over once “The Wedding Song,” a clear bookending reprise-of-a-song, ends. Why keep the CD running? (And yes, in the digital age of the playlist, these concerns are meaningless. But it’s still insulting to a great song.)
But it’s undeniable- this song’s got everything the rest of the album should have. A killer, propulsive beat, great hooks, great delivery, and now let’s look at how great these lyrics are. Bowie delivers some of his best, funniest, quippiest couplets of the decade. Examples:
But you can’t buy me off in this serial world / Oh but who died and made you material girl?
Now you’re looking for God in exciting new ways / I say trust Him at once which is something these days
or, the real best line:
So I’ll spin while my lunatic lyric goes wrong / Guess I’ll put all my eggs in a postmodern song
Ahh, so good! That’s such a great line. And he throws these out between the repeated hook of “lucy can’t dance to the noise but she knows what the noise can do,” which is almost hypnotic in it’s repetition. It’s all just so smart.
It’s filled with songs that feel tossed off, filled with songs that are cheerfully, incessantly melodic; it turns the monumental symphonic sweep of Abbey Road into a cheeky slice of whimsy on the two-part suite “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” All this made Ram an object of scorn and derision upon its release (and for years afterward, in fact), but in retrospect it looks like nothing so much as the first indie pop album, a record that celebrates small pleasures with big melodies, a record that’s guileless and unembarrassed to be cutesy.